The Secret to Online Reviews
We were last talking to Ajay Prasad on his experience with traditional and digital marketing. Aside from SEO, PPC and social media, your reputation is very important for building your business.
Ajay continues his discussion on why you need be building your reputation online. He will share why people will want to write reviews and how to consistently get positive ones.
In this Interview Learn:
The secret about people writing reviews on your business.
Why your website testimonials may not be working
The thing about Yelp, that most businesses do not realize.
Why people would rather trust a stranger over yourself
Can you discuss the importance of Reputation for businesses?
Reviews are extremely important. Every business needs a good reputation.
Look at Amazon. Every product is driven by reviews. That’s why if you buy something from Amazon they always try to get you to write reviews. Often if you see a product with no reviews or less than 3 stars, you will bypass them.
You must realize that unlike brick and mortar stores, where people can walk around to touch and feel the environment, talk to the owner get a good feeling about the owner, thinking, he seems like a decent guy or an honest person.
You can’t do that online. You haven’t had a chance to build a personal relationship with them.
For example, say a client walks into your office. They meet your staff and get a chance to talk to you. They’ll have a different perception of meeting you in person versus meeting you for the first time through your website.
If they are on your website trying to make a decision, they can’t get that personal touch from you. As a result, they need to look for cues to give them an indication about you to make a decision.
Reviews are one of the biggest cues online.
That’s why there are so many third party review sites that are popping up left and right.
It used to be that they would come to your website and read your testimonials. Now, most people won’t trust testimonials on your website. They don’t know if it’s a real or fake review. It’s a website, so anybody can make up any testimonial.
But when they go on Yelp or facebook, there is no doubt that a real person wrote the review.
Especially for the business professionals, reviews are very important.
92 percent of the consumers read online reviews before they contact a business. 92 percent!
If somebody is looking to buy a product. How the product is reviewed is absolutely critical.
If you launch a product or book on Amazon and it gets good reviews, sales will sky rocket when compared to lukewarm or negative reviews.
The other thing is that,
If they’re looking for you and don’t see any reviews, they just assume that you’re not worthy of their business. That you’re not established or just too new. That you haven’t been around enough for people to rate you.
People will skip you if you don’t have any reviews online. Say you’re looking for a doctor and you see one with no reviews and one with 4 stars, you won’t even bother looking at the guy with no reviews. Having no reviews is like having no information. You need info to make an informed decision.
You need social proof. They need to see that other people rate you highly. This is how you’ll get people to trust you and make a quick decision to come to you.
Many businesses fear negative reviews, so they don’t put themselves on review sites.
I call that putting your head in the sand.
People are going to write reviews.
But here is one dirty secret about people writing reviews.
People that are upset will have the urge to write negative reviews. They want to vent and be heard about the terrible experience they just had.
Unless you blow somebody out of the water, most people will not bother to write positive reviews. After eating a good meal from a restaurant, most people don’t think, “Oh the food was good, so now I’m going to write a review.”
But I can tell you if somebody walked out of restaurant, and the food was bad or they had a horrible service, they will want to go on Yelp and write a negative review.
So that’s the big secret about reviews. Happy people will not write reviews, but upset people will want to write negative reviews.
So what we had our clients do, was after they performed their service, they were to ask their customers, “How was your experience?”
When somebody says “bad,” you try to resolve it right then. If somebody says good, you suggest they write a review.
But if you don’t proactively ask people to write reviews, only unhappy customers will want to write reviews.
However, negative feedback can also be helpful. They can tell you about problem areas to fix or improve on.
And for small businesses, Yelp is very important. So we always say you should be on Yelp.
Even for my business, we always ask how they found us, and it’s surprising how often we hear, “We found you on Yelp.”
This is why Yelp is so important for business.
Some business owners hate Yelp so much. They’ve seen their friends or people around them get negative reviews, or have had bad reviews themselves in the past. They think that by ignoring Yelp, the problem will go away. But it won’t and can actually get worse.
The thing about Yelp that people don’t realize is that, anybody can open up a listing. They don’t have to be the business owner.
So if they’re unhappy with your service, they can open a listing of your business and then write a negative review.
That’s why on Yelp it says “Claimed” or “Unclaimed” business.
By refusing to acknowledge it, your business will continue to be visible to other customers. But you will have less control of your image and may get a bad reputation. You must take charge of your online reputation. Claim your business on Yelp.
By having a process like RepuGen, it automates the whole review process. Instead of doing it manually, it sends a text or email asking them how their experience was.
If somebody was happy, normally they would not write a review, but it makes the process easy and asks them to write about their positive experience. It only takes them 30 seconds to do.
Also what we found is that when you start getting negative reviews, you begin to see a trend. You begin to see why people are unhappy with your business.
Here’s a simple example from one our healthcare clients. This medical office kept getting negative reviews because one of their front desk staff was very rude. So they fired that employee and replaced her. Then all of sudden, all those negative ratings disappeared.
This can help you grow as you resolve hidden issues that were plaguing your business. You can begin to make positive changes. If people keep complaining about the long wait times, and you never realized it was an issue, you can change the scheduling. This can dramatically help raise your retention and keep your customers happy.
The most positive benefit is that you give your customers a chance to vent. When you reach out to them, especially when they are upset, it shows that you care. Then they won’t have the urge to post negative reviews online.
This is what taking charge of your business is all about.
How exactly does RepuGen work?
After work has been performed on your customer or client, a simple text message or email is sent to them. “Would you recommend your friends and family to us. Based on your experience can you rate us 1- 10?”
An answer of 0-5 is considered negative, and a reply is sent saying, “We’re very sorry we disappointed you. Let us know what happened.” Then they can type right there and send a message back to you. They’re told somebody from the office will contact them.
An answer of 6-7 is considered neutral. So we just thank them and ask why they rated that.
If somebody gives an 8-10, they are your advocates. We thank them and send links of your business profile on Yelp, google, facebook, etc. We ask them to post on whichever platform they use. It takes them directly there on their phone and only takes them a minute to post.
So the software compiles all your ratings, shows you the average, who wrote what review. And shows all the negative ratings that were intercepted.
Before and After case?
So we were working with this healthcare company. They have several urgent care centers but had no web presence. They had an old site from the 90’s, not mobile friendly, and were difficult to find online. They only had 3 reviews online, all 1 star. I told them that if they only offer 1 star type of service, that I couldn’t help them. They said no, those reviews don’t represent them accurately.
First we completely revamped their website. We made their website mobile friendly. This is very important. Most businesses are still not aware of how important it is to be mobile friendly.
Then we created different social media accounts for them to create a web presence and gather a following. Very quickly, they started to show up for certain keyword searches. We also did monthly email newsletters for them to keep in touch with their patients.
The final step was to work on their reputation development. There is a difference in reputation management and development. Some reputation management companies just push or try to hide negative reviews. That doesn’t work well.
So we built up their reputation. You build your reputation by asking for reviews.
For every one person that will write a positive review, there will be 20 people writing negative reviews. So you must intercept people that are upset.
So their 1-star Yelp rating jumped up significantly. They went from having three, 1-star reviews, to having fifty, 5-star reviews. Before they were getting 0 customers from the internet. Now they get over 200 patients a month just from the internet. We have a way of tracking this.
This is an example of what you can do. Reputation is very important for Health care and business service professionals.
You wouldn’t go to a doctor with a 1-star review.
Any great advice you’ve received?
I’ve received this one advice from one of my mentors during my corporate world. He was the CEO at the time. One day, he was visiting town. We got together and had lunch. I told him I was going to start my own business.
He asked what I was going to start up. So I bounced a lot of different ideas I was thinking about. I was undecided at the time but the only thing I had decided was that I was going to leave the corporate world.
He looked at me and said,
“Ajay, before you go into any business. Ask yourself WHY, why are you going to start that business. The reason can’t be purely to make a lot of money. If you have a very good reason, then you have good chance of success.”
This is the question I ask people trying to do startups when I help them with incubation. “I understand what the startup is. I get the concept. I know how you’re going to do it. But WHY are you going to do this?” You have to understand your WHY.
If somebody has a satisfactory answer about the Why, then we can work together. Because any business you start up will be very difficult. If you have a good reason why you’re trying to get into that business, you’ll do okay.
It will be easier to persist if you have a good reason and a great Why. That’s why you should always ask yourself Why before you start your business.
What’s the best way for people to contact you?
The best way is email, but the subject line must be very clear.
My website for the Reputation Management is RepuGen.com
My digital marketing site is gmrwebteam.com
Ajay Prasad is a marketing expert, successful business strategist and serial entrepreneur. He has lead marketing teams in organizations ranked among the top 10 of Fortune 500 companies.
His areas of expertise include online business entrepreneurship, internet strategy, digital marketing, business development, research and market analysis, and strategic planning for enterprise software and consumer marketing.
Ajay is the president and founder of GMR Web Team, a top digital marketing agency that helps businesses increase revenue through the internet. He also owns and operates GMR Transcription, a seven-figure web based business and award winning transcription company. His latest online business is RepuGen, an online Reputation Management company that helps professional service provider manage and gain positive reviews.